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YOUNGSTOWN Diocese settles suit with family



Published: Mon, August 5, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Joe Lantz said his family is finally getting some satisfaction in the matter of a cemetery mix-up.

By SHERRI L. SHAULIS

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown has agreed to pay for DNA testing to determine the identity of remains excavated in 1999.

In a judgment entry filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, the family of Patrick L. Lantz agreed to the diocese's offer to perform DNA testing to find out if it really is Patrick's body that was moved from one section of Calvary Cemetery to another.

Patrick's mother, Edna Carder of Fort Myers, Fla., and his siblings, Sherry and Joe Lantz, both of Youngstown, made arrangements in 1999 for Patrick's remains to be relocated.

At the time of the excavation, however, there was some confusion, as cemetery officials removed a body from one location and the headstone from another. The cemetery is on South Belle Vista Avenue on the city's West Side.

Sherry Lantz said in an interview with The Vindicator in June that cemetery officials told her that a mistake had been made. Patrick's headstone was in one location, his body in another.

Sherry Lantz said at the time she asked workers to open the vault to be sure it was Patrick, but her request was denied. The unopened vault and the headstone were relocated to the new position, next to Sherry and Joe's father, who died in 1999.

Also at that time, the Lantzes and Carder wanted the diocese to prove the identity of the body moved through DNA testing.

What diocese told them

Lantz's brother and sister said the diocese instructed them to have the testing done, and that if the results showed it was not Patrick, they would be reimbursed for half the costs.

The testing was not done at that time because the family could not afford the cost of the testing -- $5,000 -- and because they believed the diocese should cover the costs up front because it made the mistake in the first place.

The family filed a lawsuit in June against the Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of Youngstown, asking for $25,000 to pay for another excavation and DNA testing and to serve as compensation for "emotional distress."

Since the filing, however, Joe Lantz said his family met with representatives of the diocese and came to a mutual agreement.

"We finally got what we wanted," he said. "We finally met with the right person, and we are getting some satisfaction."

Expedited process

Monsignor Robert J. Siffrin, who also signed off on the judgment entry, met with the family last week and offered to have the diocese pay for the excavation and DNA testing. Samples from Carder and Sherry Lantz were taken, and Joe Lantz said the remains of the body buried in Patrick's grave also will be sent to a laboratory for testing.

"We met with him, and he was very understanding; he's the one who made it happen," Joe Lantz said. "He made all the phone calls, and he made sure that we got the testing packets that we needed."

The results of the testing could take several weeks. Monsignor Siffrin could not be reached for comment.

slshaulis@vindy.com




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